minibar and the spark of a major gastronomic journey

When I lived in Alexandria, Virginia from June 2013 until August 2016, I took advantage of every opportunity to explore the culinary landscape across the national capital region. I began in Old Town, conveniently located less than two miles from my apartment. On the weekends, I rode the metro train into Washington, DC to dine at the multitude of restaurants there, both vanguards and newcomers alike. I Uber-ed endlessly around the political heart of the nation, eating solo at first and later with an eclectic mix of friends and strangers. I was constrained neither by time nor by distance. I indulged in all types of food buoyed by unbridled enthusiasm and an unapologetic appetite. Without realizing it at the time, I was also falling in love with food, not just the diversity and availability of cuisines but by the idea of what food could be, what it could represent, and also its ability to shape and evolve my perspective on life. Food quickly became both metaphor and philosophy.

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The High Cost of Tasting Menus?

Even before the fine-dining restaurant Pineapple and Pearls (abbreviated P&P hereafter) opened in Spring 2016, several foodies had preemptively decried its then-price of $250. The comments section of numerous online articles became the bastion for their indignation and disgust. Adjectives such as “outrageous”, “ridiculous”, “pretentious”, and “out-of-touch” were just a few of the colorful (and printable!) pejoratives strewn among the discussion. How could any restaurant charge that much money, regardless of how great the food may be, some intoned? How dare Aaron Silverman, chef and owner of the local but nationally regarded Rose’s Luxury, have the temerity to ask such an astronomical price? For those comfortably accustomed to the fast-casual food culture prevalent in Washington, DC, P&P became the source of their ire. If they had been looking for a target to pillory, they found it in a restaurant that appeared excessively expensive, even by DC standards.

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